A Chemical Chaperone Decouples TDP-43 Disordered Domain Phase Separation from Fibrillation

Kyoung-Jae ChoiAllan Chris M Ferreon


Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) condensations through liquid-liquid phase separation play vital roles in the dynamic formation-dissolution of stress granules (SGs). These condensations are, however, usually assumed to be linked to pathologic fibrillation. Here, we show that physiologic condensation and pathologic fibrillation of RNPs are independent processes that can be unlinked with the chemical chaperone trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). Using the low-complexity disordered domain of the archetypical SG-protein TDP-43 as a model system, we show that TMAO enhances RNP liquid condensation yet inhibits protein fibrillation. Our results demonstrate effective decoupling of physiologic condensation from pathologic aggregation and suggest that selective targeting of protein fibrillation (without altering condensation) can be employed as a therapeutic strategy for RNP aggregation-associated degenerative disorders.


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